Disclaimers: No infringement is intended in the writing of this piece of fan fiction; all rights belong to MCA, Universal Studios and USA. Although not terribly graphic, it does contain scenes of eroticism between two mature consenting adult women. This piece, therefore, is to be considered alt lesbian fiction, and is intended for mature viewers. If you are not of the age of majority in your country, state or province, please find something else to read.

This bit of fan fiction takes place directly after Haunting of Amphipolis and includes spoilers for it and the episode Heart of Darkness that follows it. In fact, this is my rendering of the dance scene between the warrior and the bard. Call it a ‘what if’ bit of fluff. Begun January 31, 2003.

Thanks to Rob Tapert et al for making visual what has haunted my nights and filled my dreams before and since the dance sequence in Heart of Darkness. It was truly lovemaking in its purest form.

All offerings, burnt or otherwise, can be aimed at me here: ArdentTly@yahoo.com

‘Til the Music Stops

By Trish Shields





Xena dipped the hand cloth into the basin and dabbed at the blood near her left nostril. Moving her head this way and that, she was pleased that while her neck was still sore and bruised, she had full range of motion. She could still feel the strength in the demon’s hands as they closed tightly around her throat. That was too close for comfort. A shudder rippled through her, and Xena took a slow cleansing breath. The fight she’d had with Mephistopheles had been harder than she’d expected. Not that she figured it would be easy, but the demon had certainly given her a real run for her money while she was in his realm.

Xena gazed at the mirror and dabbed the cloth against her neck, noting the reddened flesh there. Although she’d been able to muster up enough energy to stand after regaining consciousness, that bit of bravado had cost her dearly. She couldn’t remember how Gabrielle and her daughter Eve had managed to muscle her back into the inn and into her mother’s chambers. Mother’s dead. A small bit of remorse could be felt through the cloying filter of dark indifference and Xena cursed the demons that had nested in her hometown. And while she’d taken out the head in her latest battle with them, the body of the serpent was still alive and well.

Xena bared her teeth a little at the analogy. She’d taken out one head and replaced it with her own. Her grin widened exposing the tips of her eyeteeth, giving her a rather vulpine look. It was hard to say whether she relished the thought of dominating such fearsome demons or was taking pleasure in the plans by which she would destroy them. I guess we’ll just have to let things play out.

She caught her reflection as the blood was squeezed from the cloth she held. The battle was one she couldn’t afford to lose. And there was so much at stake. Gabrielle. Suddenly paling, she let the rag drop into the basin, and cocked her ear. A slow throb of music could be heard over the raucous laughter. Her hands shook as she placed fingers to her temples. She could join me. She could feel the beat begin to consume her, slowly tearing down every bit of fortification erected since the moment the Archangel Lucifer had smugly informed her that he would do anything to see to it that she assume the throne of Hell. Anything? I don’t know who’s worse, that puffed up angel or Michael and his sidekick, Gabriel. Her brow lifted as she thought of the woman who wore a version of the same name. I’d do just about anything for her.

Squeezing her eyes closed, Xena forced the darkness to retreat from her soul. . Let’s just see how far the self-righteous angel is willing to go to satisfy his itch. A flush of blood infused her features and a dark look came into her eyes. Anyone who had faced the Warrior Princess in battle had seen that predatory look — just before dying. A low growl rumbled up from the back of her throat. A little itch here, a little scratch there and maybe the boy will break out in a rash that will be impossible not to deal with. But on my terms. She had to remember exactly what was at stake. She had to win, at any cost. Sensing a loophole, the warrior knew exactly how to test him. Now it was just a simple matter of implementing it.

She looked over at her battle dress lying on the bed and then down at the black leather ensemble she was wearing. Gazing at her reflection in the mirror, Xena twitched a shoulder, and was pleased how the fabric clung to her breasts. It was strange the way things seemed to appear once her battle with the King of Hell had been fought and won. Was she responsible for such appearances now that in essence she had assumed his position? She wasn’t sure, but as she fingered the luxurious fabric of the full-length coat lying on the back of the chair, right now she didn’t care. She knew without a doubt that it was a perfect fit and the realization didn’t fill her with apprehension but with a sense of power. The dark part of her soul wondered what else she could create with her mind, what sway she could hold over others to do her bidding.

Just a little push and the deal’s done, Xena. A slight prickling moved up her spine and then was gone. Images of Gabrielle bending to her every need were pushed away, albeit with more strength than Xena cared to admit she needed. Her hands had moved to dance across the flesh of her bare shoulders before travelling down the hyper sensitized skin of her upper arms. Gazing down at the dress she wore, she smiled. It wasn’t a pleasant smile. The gown wasn’t something she’d ever have picked for herself to wear, but she knew there were at least two people who would respond favourably to her choice. Two dark eyebrows rose as she thought of the reception she’d receive wearing the outfit of form fitting long black leather dress with full-length black duster over top. Although certainly not what anyone would wear to go into battle, it was exactly the type of weapon needed for the war she had planned. Bending her knee so that the rest of her left leg could be seen through the slit in the side of her gown, Xena took a moment to revel in the unquenchable level of lust that was building within her. What was it about leather that just called to her? The tips of her fingers squeaked against the lustrous fabric as her hands moved across her belly and down to the apex of her thighs.

Her mind was filled with images of how she was going to seduce and betray the Archangel, appealing to his baser nature despite his protestations that they even existed. She knew the type: all high and mighty, pointing the finger of piety at everyone else, and all the while living in denial themselves.

Picturing her hands around his throat, she smiled coldly. And then the image changed and she was feeling the bulge of his biceps, the cords that ran across the muscles of his chest, down to the downy fuzz at the base of his belly.

Her head snapped up and she pulled her hands away from the growing heat at her own lower belly.

"Get a grip." Her smile was lopsided as she pondered her own words. "On what counts." Smoothing the last of her costume, she settled her shoulders and walked into the other room.



The bard tapped her fingers on the side of her leg and tried to calm her breathing. She had sensed the warrior’s presence in the room nearly half a candle mark ago but Xena had kept to the shadows and remained silent. Gabrielle had attempted conversation with the woman, but had been ignored. It hadn’t taken a genius to understand that Xena was still preoccupied with setting up the plan. And so the bard had made herself busy, studiously ignoring the growing need to turn around and face the warrior. They’d talked briefly three hours previous, after the warrior had had a chance to fully come out of her weakened state, and she had outlined a basic plan then: they would trip the archangel up with the very rope he intended to loop around Xena’s neck. Seemed simple enough. She glanced over at the warrior who now prowled the bright areas of the candlelit room.

Gabrielle uttered a startled gasp as the full intensity of Xena’s magnetism struck her. Xena had always had a feline grace to her, but now there was something different. This went beyond the predatory and somewhat savage look Xena sometimes wore while in the grip of battle lust — this look was primordial, and while her body reacted instantly to the heady lustful intensity surrounding the woman, the total experience was utterly terrifying.

The bard’s hands shook as she moved to grip the side of the table.

Xena’s endless pacing stopped, and she turned fluidly to face the bard. Every part of Gabrielle’s body and soul felt probed as the brunette levelled her gaze in her direction. She saw the naked truth in Xena’s eyes and knew that it would only be a matter of time before she gave in. An insistent voice inside her head tormented her by saying that this defining moment had finally come, reminding her that she’d wished for it almost every night since she and Xena had met. It was obvious by the salacious grin stretching Xena’s lips that she saw the truth, too. The bard’s hands moved like pieces of stone to her lap as she fought to maintain control.

The deafening silence was interrupted by a deep chuckle. Gabrielle loved to hear Xena laugh; it was something that occurred far too seldom, and especially so since the fight with Mephistopheles. But the laughter was different. The bard’s fingers bunched against her bare thigh, and a shudder ran through her small frame. Everything is different and so very wrong. Just thinking of the demonic things that had beaten wetly against her in the pit she’d been pulled into made her stomach roll. That event alone was enough to change anybody. It didn’t take a mind reader to know that what she’d experienced was only a speck of what the warrior endured at the hands of Mephistopheles. Her fingers caressed the skin below them as she thought of her friend vulnerable and at the demon’s mercy.

A cup was banged on the table in front of her, and Gabrielle blinked away the troubling thoughts. "What?"

Xena’s expression was a mixture of irritation and…something more. "Are you in or out, Gabrielle? You had a look on your face there for a moment." She tossed the bard an apple. "Hungry for…something?"

Gabrielle felt the room tilt, and was glad that she was seated. Her throat was very dry as she inspected the vision before her. Xena always looked good in leather, and it had sometimes been difficult to concentrate while seated behind her on Argo.

The bard swallowed and placed the fruit on the table. There was a tightening around Xena’s mouth and eyes that made her feel more than a little unsettled. Mind you, the feeling wasn’t new; it had begun after she’d brought the woman back to the land of the living. Gabrielle’s eyes glazed over and she was caught in the memory of how terrified she’d been while holding her friend beside the very pits of Hell. Why would she trust me with the damned pinch now? I could have killed her!

A look of vulnerability filled the bard’s face, and Xena licked her lips, the pupils of her eyes almost black with intensity. Feelings of conquest battled with the need to protect the young woman, especially from herself. The muscles in her jaw bulged as she fought to keep at bay images of Gabrielle writhing beneath her. She could almost feel Gabrielle’s satiny skin, and smell the heady scent that always seemed to permeate the air around her. Oh, how she wanted to have that scent on her fingers, her lips! Her nostrils flared. Keep focused, warrior! Think of the love, the purity.

She couldn’t afford to get entangled in the web of growing evil surrounding them, not when she had hopes to ensnare another. Xena had been aware of its existence shortly after arriving at her mother’s inn days ago. Its intensity had grown steadily until reaching its pinnacle when Mephistopheles appeared in the real world to fight her. Her lips twitched as she thought of how easy it had been to con the demon into entering her world. But things had progressed rapidly after his demise, and it was all she could do to maintain the wall erected around what little good was left in her blackening heart. She couldn’t give into it, not now, and not with Gabrielle’s immortal soul hanging in the balance. An image of scales appeared in her mind, with the bard’s somewhat tainted soul and her own black and battered one on one side and the greater good on the other. It was clear which was the heavier, and one more bit of weight would surely cause them both to tumble out into the waiting abyss.

She swallowed and beads of sweat appeared on her forehead. Having lived with a black heart for years, giving in to its darkness came far too easily. It was a constant battle to keep it at bay, but she’d been able to — with help from Gabrielle. But she wasn’t Gabrielle, didn’t have the pure heart, and certainly didn’t have the strength of her convictions when it came to hiding her true feelings from the woman. Especially now with the portal of Hell right there in the backyard.

Gabrielle watched the warrior’s strong hands grip the table, her eyes following the twitching muscles from forearm up to the graceful curve of Xena’s shoulder and neck. She found that she couldn’t swallow. Xena’s well-proportioned, well-muscled body was so captivating, akin to that of a wild and dangerous jungle cat. At that moment all Gabrielle wanted was to feel those muscles moving against her, all around her, inside her. Gabrielle blinked. Gods, I’m drooling. She dragged her gaze up from Xena’s well-appointed chin to the equally dazzling cheekbones and perfect nose up to two beautiful indigo pools of…lust. She tried to swallow again, and the resulting click punched through the silence. Is that what lust looks like? And then Xena looked away.

The warrior took a slow steady breath, held it and tried to focus on the plan she was going to set in motion. Smoothing her leather dress, Xena closed her eyes, and tried to summon up the will to get back into a heightened state of alert, despite her body’s betrayal. Her hands unconsciously followed the curve of her hips up to her ribs, her movements slow and sensuous, before stilling their path just beneath the swell of her breasts. One brow arched as she opened her eyes. A feeling of panic washed over her and her hands shook as she willed the offending limbs to deny the desire seeping into every fibre.

Her eyes cleared and Xena took in the look on the bard’s face before Gabrielle had the presence of mind to hide her response. The warrior could feel her blood quickening.

Caught in the act, the bard coughed uneasily, pushed herself away from the table, and walked unsteadily to the door. "Where’s Eve?"

Xena’s eyes watched the play of muscles in Gabrielle’s shoulders and took perverse delight in seeing the blonde’s reaction to the tension between them. The corner of her mouth curled into a smirk. And I wasn’t even consciously trying. Gods, what I could do to her. She shuddered, thinking about the skills she’d learned during her years as an unscrupulous despot. Stop it!

Moving her hand down to grip her chakram tightly, the blade biting into her flesh, she immersed herself in the pain; it was a reminder that despite the overwhelming feeling of power, she could be hurt and so could the bard.

"I think she’s in the garden, probably…"

Gabrielle’s lips twisted. "Probably praying to Eli in an effort to save our souls."

Xena pouched her lips out and slowly nodded. She thought of her daughter and knew as evil as Eve thought she had been as Livia, she didn’t have the devious mind needed to trick someone like Lucifer. Keeping her out of the loop was for her own good.

"I still can’t believe she really thinks we’re descending into the pits of depravity so easily." Gabrielle shook her head and then rubbed her upper arms as goose pimples raced across her flesh. She thought of all the times she’d been tempted by the newly experienced rush gotten during and after battle. But watching Xena struggle to overcome her dark desires during those times had helped reduce the keen edge of Gabrielle’s battle lust.

She shuddered again and grit her teeth. Images arose unbidden of the warrior in full battle mode, her hair almost an entity unto its self as it formed a living carapace around Xena’s neck and shoulders while she fought faceless soldiers with sword and teeth flashing. Gabrielle’s pupils moved under closed eyelids as the images continued, images that carefully and almost painfully outlined the majesty of the warrior’s movements, and the intricacies of her skills. She inhaled sharply as the warrior’s leathers began melting from her body, leaving her nude, her flesh glistening enticingly.

The bard’s chest was tight, her flesh tingling, and she exhaled a gasp of air as the warrior moved in behind her. Her body responded immediately, making her nipples painfully erect, and causing a wave of desire to flood her senses.

She wanted to scream her surrender when she heard Xena inhale slowly and move to her right ear.

"I can smell your…fear." Gabrielle’s nostrils twitched but she remained silent, although whether it was because she was afraid to break the spell they were in or whether it was because she hoped Xena would stop things before they got too carried away was up for conjecture. There was no doubt that it was more than fear Xena smelled, and although part of her revelled in that bit of information another tried valiantly to tamp it down and discard it. In her present state, the bard knew that any defence on her part was wishful thinking.

"Xena," the bard began. The heat from the warrior’s hands seared her as they moved slowly over her hips. Gabrielle’s breath caught painfully as the warrior’s teeth nipped at her earlobe.

"It’s good that you’re afraid, Gabrielle. You should be." Xena’s lips and teeth moved slowly down to the side of the blonde’s neck where she tarried, raising Gabrielle’s heart rate to a fevered pitch.

The bard’s lips trembled and her breath caught painfully as the warrior’s tongue slowly outlined the contours of her ear.

"Lucifer," the bard whispered, her voice deep and raspy.

The warrior’s hands stilled, her jaw clenched, and she reluctantly brought her mouth away from the tantalizing flesh. It would be too easy to be distracted by this woman, this part that made her whole.

"Is waiting. Yah, I know. And while it would do him a little good to cool his heels, I guess there’s no time like the present, huh?"

Gabrielle turned in the warrior’s arms and smiled as her chin was tilted up. "So, what’s the plan?"




A large room in the main building used for banquets now resembled one of the entertainment areas Xena had seen while in Rome. The word ‘orgy’ played along the length of her tongue, but was kept in place as she clenched her teeth.

A row of torches lined the walls, and silken tapestries had been hung keeping the cold wet air outside where it belonged. In the middle of the room was a large fire pit. Red coals glittered from the floor of the pit, their glow almost in sync with the throbbing music. Stacks of wood had been carefully piled high to burn without tending throughout the evening. The air inside the room was almost cloying in its heated embrace.

Xena felt a trickle of sweat make its way slowly down between her shoulder blades to pool at the base of her spine. She longed to pull at the now cumbersome leather garment that felt like a second skin. Pushing aside the opening to the leather duster instead, she inhaled slowly at the way the sweat began to dry on her skin. Her eyes closed briefly as the fine hairs on her skin bristled, and she imagined a certain blonde woman’s hands moving slowly over her body. Her eyes snapped open, and she set her gaze on Gabrielle. The reaction was immediate, and the bard felt her knees weaken. She licked her lips and tried to look away, but as Xena’s hand snaked out quickly to hold her steady, it was obvious who had control of her body. Part of Gabrielle rebelled at the thought; she was her own master, wasn’t she? Her nostrils flared while the truth hit her squarely between the eyes. She was never in control while Xena was nearby. Never. She expelled a breath sharply. It wasn’t the demon’s influence that made her want to cover the warrior’s body with kisses endlessly through the night and the days to follow. It had helped throw open the barriers she’d erected between them, but Gabrielle couldn’t deny that she revelled in the knowledge that every person in the room would kill to be in her place at that moment.

Slowly glancing upward into the almost painfully dark eyes of the warrior, Gabrielle settled her shoulders. With a smirk, Xena saw a look of defiance building within her friend, completely mistaking the bard’s realization and acceptance of the truth between them.

The revellers had ceased their activities momentarily when Xena entered the room. Hardly anyone noticed the smaller blonde standing beside her. As the music resumed, one figure’s focus changed from the nameless woman moving intently between his legs onto the bard as she tried to slink into the background. Virgil casually pushed the woman away, and laughed at her angry and somewhat hurt reaction. A sneer creased his good looks as someone immediately captured her attention, and she dismissed him without further thought. Soon other naked bodies joined the tangle, and Virgil pushed his way through them until he stood beside Gabrielle.

"Well, well. What’s a nice girl like you doing in a den of iniquity like this?" Gabrielle flinched as the man’s fingertips moved across the tops of her shoulders. For some reason it was easier to deny her body’s attraction to this man. She could still feel the pulse of erotica pushing through her veins, but the eye of the storm wasn’t some kid of a friend of hers, it was Xena.

She looked over her shoulder, easily taking her eyes off the hurt expression on his face. "Nice girls finish last, Virgil. I intend on being the winner in this, any way that I can."

Xena moved fluidly to the center of the room. Even the musicians sensed a shift in their surroundings and their fingers faltered until only a steady beat of drums remained. The warrior’s lips curled as everyone in the room began to respond to her. Her fingers moved through the air in intricate patterns, controlling even the heat waves until the room was mesmerized. As she plucked here and there a chorus of moans and whimpers began, rising and falling like waves. And like a maestro, the Warrior Princess bent to her task, feeding off the lustful energy until she was almost consumed by the want and need of so many around her.

Lucifer’s smile broadened as men and women leaned closer, their bodies moving of their own volition, having their thought process neatly dissected and discarded by the woman who held them in thrall. His skin tingled and he felt an urgent need to join them. A muscle twitched at the corner of his eye as he fought the growing need to submit. I am in control! She thinks she can bend me to her will but she will submit to me. His chest puffed out as he thought of the power he would control and the women he would conquer. My status alone should make her bend to my will. And my will alone. He was totally oblivious as his hand moved to his groin and a husky chuckle filled the air surrounding him.

As glistening bodies began moving towards her, Xena continued as if they didn’t even exist. With a flick of her hand a body knew either ecstasy or pain, sometimes both, and Xena revelled in her power. As her eyes moved over the throbbing and pulsing masses, her breath faltered. The tip of her tongue slipped slowly over her lower lip as green eyes beheld blue. I am for you.

Every eye in the room followed the smaller woman’s journey as she slipped in and out of the throng of people, her hand caressing skin as she went. Xena’s breathing was at a fevered pitch by the time the bard stepped around the fire pit. It was only seconds before her graceful motion placed her within the orbit of the Warrior Princess.

Gabrielle's hand moved slowly to encircle Xena's waist while the other moved up the woman's neck and along her jaw.  It was exquisite, this feeling of raw sensuality, raw power, and total love - all mixed into one glorious pot of sensations; she couldn't help but react to Xena's magnetism.  Her skin seemed to prickle wherever it came into contact with the warrior’s and Gabrielle could tell by the look in the woman's eyes that she was way past worrying whether the bard really wanted the seduction to continue.

It had begun as a ruse, a sneaky con that would force Lucifer into acting on his long denied but very blatant sinful desires.  Being a wary archangel, it had taken Xena most of the day to get him to this point in the plan.  And now that they were here, any thoughts of a preconceived plan whereby Gabrielle would pretend to react to a simulated scene of seduction went completely out of her head.

Although Xena was heavily into a haze of unbridled lust, part of her could still focus on the job at hand.  Keeping Lucifer at least partially in sight, she began a dance of seduction, her fingers trailing up and down Gabrielle's bare skin, leaving a line of pure fire in their wake.

Lucifer sat on the cushions, his rising state of ardour more rising to a fevered pitch as the two women began to move in a ballet of pure ecstasy. Tearing her gaze from the man, Xena looked deeply into the eyes of her friend, sending her a small warning - an appeal, really.  'Don't get too caught up, bard,' it said.  'Keep focused,' it warned. 

'Let me take you into the furnace of my soul,' she wanted to whisper.

The lamplight in the room began to flicker, almost matching the pulse quickening in synch between the two women, the thin barrier of skin defining them as two separate entities already set ablaze.



As the blonde reached up and trailed her fingers up the warrior’s arms and along Xena’s jaw line, Lucifer’s hands bunched at his side. He ground his teeth as his breathing changed from rapid and shallow to deep and deathly slow. The center of his being throbbed painfully and the Archangel could swear he could see the blood vessels in his eyes pulsating as the seductive dance continued.

The blonde’s fingers spread slowly over the brunette’s chest and settled around the two mounds that had been pressed against him teasingly only a short time before. He hated her for her teasing actions then and hated himself for not acting on them now. Lucifer could see the hooded look in Xena’s eyes and he was filled with the first tormented green of jealousy. I’ll kill the lot of you.

As the warrior closed her hands around the shorter woman’s hips, pulling her up until the bard’s legs were wrapped around her middle, a growl filled the room. A few couples nearby shrank away in fear as if the very air surrounding Lucifer would erupt in fire at any moment. He sneered in their direction before resettling his gaze back on the women dancing before him. Spittle sat on his chin momentarily before evaporating and the archangel could feel a blackness oozing through his body. He lumbered to his feet slowly as rage turned his lustful gaze to stone.

As the blonde eagerly sucked on Xena’s neck, both of her hands massaging the warrior’s breasts, Lucifer seethed. She was for him and him alone. Mine!

Xena’s hands slowly moved over the tight cloth covering her lover’s ass. She groaned deeply as Gabrielle slowly ground against her. Her throat was tight and raw from breathing like a bellows and she chuckled darkly as the blonde whimpered against her. "Can you feel me, Gabrielle? Can you feel me inside?" Gabrielle’s throat was dry and she nodded weakly. In her heart, the bard felt that their dance had been lovemaking — that and oh so much more. Her heart burst from the intensity. The same intensity slapped at the warrior, chastising her for using the bard in such a callous way. She inhaled the love that wove around them. The emotions between them was beautiful and right and hundreds of leagues away from being a simple ruse to trick a fallen angel.

Xena buried her face in the young woman’s cleavage and then forced herself to focus on her real prey. Her lips twitched as Lucifer staggered towards them. Her eyes widened as he began to change, his skin rippling from the force of the metamorphosis.

Carefully wrapping one hand around Gabrielle’s middle, the warrior grabbed a fistful of blonde hair and forced the woman’s head back. Running her tongue along the bard’s neck down to the top of her black tight fitting top, Xena’s teeth glinted in the firelight before they closed on the fabric. A loud rip singed the air and everyone groaned as the blonde’s breasts were exposed. "Mine."

Xena’s pulse was galloping through her, pushing all thought out of her brain. There was no plan, there was no thought of seducing a stupid angel into the pits of Hell. All that mattered was consummating the torrential fire the rippled the air around them. I want, I need, I will have. "I am for you." As she tore her gaze away from the archangel, Xena’s heart stopped beating as she looked into the trusting eyes of her friend, the bard’s words surrounding the flame until it was contained within safe parameters.

"I love you, Xena, I always have." Two small hands held her face and then Xena was being pulled down into the sweetest kiss she’d ever experienced. And in that one moment every dark corner of her soul was cleansed. She settled the woman onto her feet and pushed the ripped fabric up to cover her nakedness. Then Xena turned to the transforming monster a few feet away.

"You’ll never have this, Lucifer, never. Even if you beat me I’ll win. We’ll win." Two pairs of eyes filled with love for each other turned their gaze to the demon and he knew that it was so.

His torment filled the air as hard scales spread across his once beautiful flesh and he screeched his pain as two gnarled horns pushed through his skull.





Eve placed the jug of cold water beside the bed and smiled weakly at Gabrielle. The bard nodded her thanks and then dipped a cloth into the jug. The redhead remained silent as the bard tended to her mother’s wounds. Xena lay on the pallet as still as death. Only the rising and falling of her chest reassured the disciple that life still coursed through her mother’s veins.

The two had been uncharacteristically quiet after the battle in the temple. Eve couldn’t remember much of it, only that she’d felt enormous shame for having doubted both women. She could only truly remember two angels appearing out of thin air and then her mother was throwing some hideous creature into a hole in the floor. Her head ached as she sought to pull what she knew must have happened into what her eyes had told her. Squeezing her eyes shut, the disciple released a shuddering breath.

The last few days had been nightmarish and she wasn’t at all certain that the lot of them hadn’t been drugged somehow. A memory of her grandmother appearing in a beam of light hit her and she was enveloped in an embrace of love. No, some things had been real. There had been so much at stake and she had mistrusted the two women she should have trusted emphatically. A tear rolled down her cheek. Unsure of what to say, she was grateful for the silence that had sprung up between her mother and the bard. There had been a time when she was certain that the blonde was going to be consumed by the fire that spread like a disease through her mother’s soul. The awful possibility of their relationship being destroyed hit her. Hard.

Wiping a small bead of sweat from her brow, she tentatively reached a hand out to her mother. Falling just short of touching her, Eve swallowed a sob and quickly exited the room.

"What are we gonna do about that kid?"

Gabrielle shook her head and continued to wipe at the warrior’s bruised body, uncertain as to what to say in response.

"I guess we should let her off the hook, huh? I mean, she thinks she’s betrayed us by not trusting me. It was never her decision; I took that away from her." A shadow crossed Xena’s eyes and Gabrielle knew she doubted her skills as a parent once more.

Could they have trusted Eve? It was never an issue because neither one of them would ever knowingly put her in a position where she’d have to lie or be in direct danger. And being anywhere close to them during this awful event was bound to be dangerous, no questions asked.

But other questions plagued the bard. Her lips parted momentarily and then she pressed them together, swallowing the words that needed to be said. Could they ever get back to the place they’d been in before, the place that was ruled by trust, respect and love? Perhaps their relationship had been lost right along with the elevated position Lucifer once held?

Xena opened her eyes, the tightness surrounding them softening as she gazed at her friend. And lover. The connection she’d had with Gabrielle during the dance had been better than any sex she had ever experienced. She’d never felt such intensity in her lifetime. She doubted she ever would.

Pushing herself into a sitting position, the warrior took the rag from her friend’s hand and set it aside. A few seconds rolled slowly by. Xena’s hands dangled loosely between her knees and she hung her head. I’ve lost you before I ever really found you.

Small hairs at the back of her neck prickled as the blonde moved in behind her. A tight breath was released as soft hands moved over the tight muscles in her shoulders.

"You did what you had to, but know this, warrior. You never forced me, I was a willing participant. I could feel your power, your will. But not for the reasons you think. Your darkness was terrifying, yes, but I knew that I could trust you."

Xena shook her head quickly. "No. I’m not a woman you should ever trust, Gabrielle. Ever. I used you, just as I have others many times before."

The warrior winced as her muscles were gripped painfully. "Was that dance for Lucifer or was it for me?" Gabrielle resumed the massage as the silence lengthened. The bard’s nerves were thrumming, her mind filled with the torment she knew might overwhelm her if things didn’t go as they should. But she had to trust the warrior.

Her hands were gripped as she was pulled into the warrior’s lap. Xena wept silently, the tears dripping from her face and splashed onto the bard’s flushed skin. "I knew that I could trust you, even if you didn’t trust yourself, Xena." She held the brunette’s face between her hands.

"You had me at hello, warrior. I’ve been yours since the beginning, and no evil could change that. In fact, I think that it only made things more clearly instead of shrouding them in darkness. Huh. Evil was good."

Xena’s lips curled into a smile and she laughed weakly. "Only you could say that and mean it. I love you, Gabrielle."

The bard buried her face in the warrior’s shoulder and trembled with nervous glee. She loves me!

As the warrior intoned those three words over and over against the curve of her ear, Gabrielle’s tears began to fall. The women held each other and cried out their fears and joys. A few hours later as they lay in each other’s arms, Gabrielle leaned over and kissed Xena’s nose. "If what we did on the dance floor is a little bit of the intensity we’re going to share, I say we ditch the kid quickly and without fanfare."

Xena chuckled and nodded. "Yeah, I guess that would be the safe thing to do. We could hook up with her in a couple of days or so."

The bard shook her head. "Well, how about a week? She and Virgil could join us on our journeys…" Xena’s lips twitched as Gabrielle mouthed ‘no’. "Hmm. On second thought, forget it. I wanted to rip that kid’s heart right out of his chest the way he looked at you." Gabrielle’s nose crinkled and she smiled impishly at the warrior’s jealousy. "Never stood a chance, Xena. I am for you."

"Yes, I remember you saying that."

"Meant every word, too, warrior."

Xena’s fingers moved in the air above the bard. "So, no bending you to my will then?" She shrugged as Gabrielle shook her head. "Ah, easy come, easy go." The bard pursed her lips. "Oh, I’m not saying you didn’t bend something. Like my resolve to remain silent about a few things."

"Yeah, and we need to talk about that, don’t we? Okay, more than a week. Well, how long then?"

Gabrielle leaned in and kissed Xena softly. "I don’t know, how long do dance lessons usually take, oh teacher mine? Personal lessons, of course."

Quiet chuckles filled the air and then there was silence. A lone figure stood at the door to the hut, hidden by the lengthening shadows of the afternoon. Eve covered her mouth as happy laughter threatened to burst forth. Settling her possessions in a bag against her back, the once hated Bitch of Rome pulled a scarf against her features and headed towards the setting sun. For someone who was supposedly filled with such goodness, Eve knew she had a long way to go before she even reached the outskirs of the total unconditional love and purity both women had for each other. She should never have doubted them. What had she been thinking?

One day she and Eli would have to sit down and have a long conversation.




Return to the Academy